Saturday Night Live without its guiding light, producer Lorne Michaels, may be unthinkable to some. But there may be something brewing.
Kenan Thompson, speaking on Charlamagne tha God’s “Hell of a Week” podcast, mused that when SNL hits its 50th anniversary in the 2024-2025 season, it may be time to put it to bed. Michaels is 77, and there has been speculation – some of it from Michaels – that he’s thinking about bowing out when SNL arrives at the milestone.
“The rumor is that the show is ending at its 50th season because Mr. Lorne Michaels doesn’t want to do it after age 80. Is that true?” Charlamagne asked Thompson.
“Is that the rumor?” Thompson replied. “All right, I need to start planning.”
Michaels has been the SNL showrunner throughout its run, except for a five-year period in the mid-1980s.
“There could be a lot of validity to that rumor, because 50 is a good number to stop at,” Thompson said. “That’s an incredible package. He will be, probably, close to 80 years old at that point, and, you know, he’s the one who’s had his touch on the whole thing.
“So, if somebody tries to come into his shoes, you know, it’s a good opportunity for NBC to save money as well, you know what I’m saying? [NBC] might slash the budget and then at that point, you can’t really do the same kind of show. So that’s unfair to watch it just really go down kind of in flames for real because of those restrictions… Capping it at 50 might not be a bad idea,” he said.
“[Michaels] is such a legend that he keeps off those corporate wolves, if you will,” Thompson added. “They spend a lot of money on that show every week. It’s an expensive show, but it’s a one-of-a-kind thing.”
Michaels himself has indicated he is considering ending his run in 2025.
“You know, I think I’m committed to doing this show until its 50th anniversary, which is in three years,” the Canada-born entertainer said in December 2021. “I’d like to see that through, and I have a feeling that’d be a really good time to leave. But… I won’t want the show ever to be bad. I care too deeply about it. It’s been my life’s work. So I’m going to do everything I can to see it carry on.”